166 Rushing Yards
65.2 Offense Grade
69.4 Run Grade
D’Ernest Johnson is the final running back to make himself fond of by the fan base. Johnson being the third back in a talented running back group did not leave many opportunities. In order to find to ways to get on the field Johnson’s impact came via special teams. In the back half of the season Johnson added a spark to the kick return unit averaging over 26 yards per return in four games.
In terms of running the ball D’Ernest biggest impact came in week four against the Cowboys. His performance came on the heel of Chubb’s injury and Johnson rushed for 95 yards on 13 attempts. Johnson’s production on the road showed his ability to help close out a game to chew clock. The following game against the Colts, he ripped off a 28-yard run to ice the game in the fourth. Outside of these special moments Johnson was relatively quiet the remainder of the season.
As stated previously it is hard to get touches in such a talented backfield but Johnson fulfilled his role successfully last season. He stepped up when his number was called and provided value on special teams. Those are the characteristics coach look for in depth-rotational guys and D’Ernest Johnson earned the right to fight for a roster spot next season.
Overall the Cleveland Browns are primed to find more success in the running game next season as long as Chubb and Hunt remain healthy. One of the biggest conversation topics this offseason will be Nick Chubb’s contract situation as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Chubb’s contract expiration does not come with the same flexibility as Baker Mayfield’s or Denzel Ward’s due to the lack of a fifth-year team option. In turn GM Andrew Berry has a big decision looming on Nick Chubb’s future with the Cleveland Browns.
Looking into the long term, Kareem Hunt is the only running back under contract after next season. The talent in the backfield will be vital to future offensive success given its heavy use of playaction. There are worries Nick Chubb’s next contract could be too expensive for Andrew Berry’s liking. No matter who it comes from Chubb will be getting big money next season. Given that Chubb’s cap hit next year is only $2.34 million which is less than Hunt’s $5 million cap hit, the Browns should not be too stingy and extend their star running back long term.
CHUNT! CHUNT! CHUNT!